England & Wales, Scotland Democracy, devolution and governance

What a general election means for administrators: launching our new research

Bookmark

Image from istock

Dr Greg Stride from the LGIU’s Local Democracy Research Centre explores what the UK snap general election means for administrators and outlines the launch of our latest research plans – to survey all administrators after the general election and investigate their experience of running back-to-back elections.

It’s finally happened. A snap general election has been announced. Administrators had barely finished putting away the ballot boxes from May’s local elections before they found they had to do it all again at perilously short notice. This is not the first time this has happened, but it might be the most challenging time.

In our 2023 survey, 93% of electoral administrators described the challenges of organising a snap general election as a problem. On top of this, over 80% said that running elections is more difficult than it used to be, and 96% that elections staff are overworked during elections. This is a sector under strain, and another snap election, so soon after, the locals will present more challenges.

What are administrators up against?

Last year, administrators raised significant issues with running elections, many of which are likely to be exacerbated at a general election. Problems with recruiting staff, booking polling stations, the challenges associated with voter ID and ensuring voters have everything they need to vote, potential disturbances in polling stations, the growth in the number of overseas electors – a group that presents serious logistical challenges, and coping with the increased volume of applications, are all more likely to be an even greater challenge at a general election according to our respondents.

Alongside all of these pressures, the work of electoral administrators is rapidly changing (as outlined in this LGIU article by Peter Stanyon, the Chief Executive of the Association of Electoral Administrators). Since the last general election they’ve had to contend with introducing voter ID, changes to how electors can apply for postal and proxy votes, expansions in the number of overseas electors, and changes to postal vote handling rules, as well as changes to the franchise for European electors.

Want to know more about what it takes to run elections? In this LGIU article, Andrew Smith, Chair of the Association of Electoral Administrators, highlights the challenges.

How will electoral administrators manage these elections given all of the challenges they are facing?

We already know that the electoral sector has been under strain for years, and that it is only possible to run elections due to the hard work and dedication of electoral administrators. What we want to know after the general election is how well it went, what needs to be done to ensure that elections can continue to be run successfully in the future, and the experiences of elections staff – the people who make elections happen.

Our survey will launch in the weeks after the general election. For more information, please contact [email protected] 

Electoral adminstration goes hand in hand with having a strong democracy. Our recent Global Local newsletter explores the vitality of these processes which often rest on local government’s shoulders on an international level.



Bookmark

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *